Saturday, February 18, 2012

The Horse Head Five...with Michael Carmody


"These days...
it seems like indie artists are a dime a dozen. The word has lost its meaning."
--> Michael Carmody <--

The College Crowd Digs Me...is passionate about drawing attention to the under-appreciated or forgotten "lost gems" in media. Revisiting music, books and movies that might have been missed and are deserving of fresh ears, eyes and minds.

And now a new feature that will allow others a platform to share their likes and opinions...The Horse Head Five.

First up...Michael Carmody
  • Michael Carmody, along with partner/co-owner Angela Mallory,
    runs the must-visit Donut Whole. (A widely known hangout for good coffee, hard to find
    beverages, live music, comedy, and a delicious Dali-esque donut selection.)
  • Host of an internet radio show..."Background Noise".
  • Creator of Wichita Vortex...a fascinating "then and now" pictorial of Wichita, KS.
  • Provides guitar and vocals in the Power-Frock band...The Sluggos ...who will play us out a little later.
HORSE HEAD: Tell me about an older album/CD you think has been totally underrated? ...A song?

Michael Carmody: I was/am a big fan of the stable of artists at Shimmy-Disc Records back in the '80s-'90s. The greatest Shimmy-Disc act was Dogbowl (Stephen Tunney). He started out as a founding member of King Missile (Dog Fly Religion), the band that went on to infamy with their song "Detachable Penis".



But it's Dogbowl's solo stuff that I adore, most specifically the album "Flan" (1992) which is made up of songs illustrating scenes from his amazing novel of the same name.
"Flan" (book and album)...is the story of a man named Flan who wakes up one morning to discover that his city has been engulfed in flames, most likely as a by-product of a nuclear attack. (The first line in both book and album: "Flan awoke to the terrible realization that his room was on fire.")

He wraps his giant talking pet fish Ginger Kang Kang around his neck and wanders off across the charred landscape in his striped nightshirt and toupee, encountering horrible mutant creatures, cannibals and all manner of unholy carnage along the way.
Dogbowl's band in this era (circa 1991) was made up of electric guitar, drums, bass, lap steel, clarinet and organ, and the arrangements on the tunes that make up the "Flan" album are wonderful. The record could have been made at any time from about 1966 to the present day. And the whole affair is drowned in trademark Kramer reverb. I have listened to "Flan" one hundred bajillion times.

When I started publishing SEEN Magazine in 1997, I interviewed Dogbowl by phone in Paris (he is married to a French woman and divides his time between Paris and NYC) and we became friends.

We met on my honeymoon in New York in 2000, and he was kind enough to write a blurb for my self-published collection of political essays circa 2004. Just last year his follow-up novel, "100 Percent Lunar Boy" was published and featured as a B & N "Discover Great New Writers" selection.
I also happen to love his debut solo album "Tit! An Opera" (1989) more than life itself...especially the tune "Growing Up in a Wheelchair"...which was my introduction into the world of Dogbowl.

"On the Monkeybars" - Dogbowl



HORSE HEAD: Recommend me a really good novel.

MICHAEL CARMODY: Well, I've accidentally recommended the great novel "Flan" by Stephen Tunney in my answer to your first question. These days I rarely read any fiction at all, but I did just finish a great first novel by a guy named David Wong (not his real name), who writes for Cracked.com.
His book is called "John Dies At The End" and it is kind of a horror/sci-fi/black comedy thing...hard to categorize, but gripping, funny, terrifying and impossible to predict throughout. It's being made into a film now, with Paul Giamatti of all people.

HORSE HEAD:
What's an older movie you enjoyed that others might enjoy revisiting?

MICHAEL CARMODY: I just got a Blu-Ray player specifically so I could buy the "complete" restored "Metropolis" in the best possible form. This Fritz Lang film, made in 1926, is probably my overall favorite movie of all time.
"Metropolis"
...is the granddaddy of all sci-fi flicks and just unbelievably epic in every sense of the word. If you've seen one of the many horribly butchered, truncated versions -- or Giorgio Moroder's colorized rock & roll adulteration -- you have only seen half the film, and what you've seen does NOT do the story proper justice.
I would also recommend "The Harder They Come" (1972)...the first film made by native Jamaicans and starring reggae legend Jimmy Cliff. This film has the best soundtrack ever, hands down.
And then there's the completely underground "Fame Whore" (1997)...by director Jon Moritsugu. I own the DVD and have watched it probably literally 30 times. It's a litmus test movie. Show it to your friends and see what they think.



HORSE HEAD:
Who's a good indie artist (any genre) that deserves more attention?

MICHAEL CARMODY: These days it seems like "indie" artists are a dime a dozen...the word has lost its meaning. I'd say I'd have to go back to the Shimmy-Disc catalog once again and pull out Bongwater. The band was comprised primarily of label head/producer/musical genius Kramer and actress/performance artist Ann Magnuson. They made a total of four albums, three of which are essential listening.

The two middle records, "The Power of Pussy" (1991) and "Too Much Sleep" (1989) are unstoppable powerhouses, combining Kramer's genre-mutating musical savvy with the free-associating dreamscapes of Ann Magnuson.



Choice tracks: "The Power of Pussy," "Folk Song," "Kisses Sweeter than Wine," "Too Much Sleep," "Psychedelic Sewing Room," "Obscene and Pornographic Art" and "What If?". I adore this band!

HORSE HEAD:  
If you stream, what's the last thing you watched?
MICHAEL CARMODY:  
Last night on Netflix streaming I watched..."Marwencol" (2010) ...an amazing documentary about a man who was brain damaged in a brutal beating outside a bar, then went on to create an entire fictional town in his backyard using doll figures and homemade props...all as a form of mental & physical therapy. I will not soon forget it. Highly recommended.

Now as promised...The Sluggos


Good stuff!

Casey Chambers
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